Employing A Choir to Reduce Dementia-Related Stigma: A Toolkit for Knowledge Mobilization
Over half a million Canadians are living with dementia, and 25,000 new cases are diagnosed each year. The estimated costs of dementia exceed 10.4 billion per year (Alzheimer Society of Canada, 2018). Dementia refers to a set of symptoms that include progressive, degenerative declines that affect memory, reasoning, the ability to communicate, judgment, and mood (Dugeon, 2010; Wetzels et al., 2010).
Alzheimer's is the most common cause of irreversible dementia and the numbers of people with dementia are projected to double by 2031. One of the biggest issues facing people living with dementia is the stigma and social isolation they face within their communities. Social isolation and loneliness significantly affect the quality of life of persons living with dementia and their caregivers. Social engagement can delay or reduce dementia symptoms and possibly decrease the rate of disease progression (Tuokko & Smart, 2018).
An intergenerational dementia choir can allow persons living with dementia to participate and contribute in meaningful ways to the broader community. Our research on intergenerational choirs indicates that they can significantly reduce the stigma of dementia and the social isolation. Choirs are inexpensive and common in most communities but a social movement is needed to make them dementia friendly. Knowledge mobilization of our research findings will encourage stakeholders to explore ways to sustain and replicate our innovative intergenerational choir program.